The boxing universe is crackling with anticipation as Oleksandr Usyk, the 36-year-old Ukrainian phenom, is gearing up to defend his WBA (Super), WBO, and IBF titles this Saturday against Daniel Dubois, the 25-year-old British contender. With an unblemished record of 20 wins, Usyk—who also boasts an Olympic gold medal and a former undisputed cruiserweight championship—is set to lock horns with Dubois in the Tarczyński Arena Wrocław, Poland. The event will be broadcast stateside on ESPN+ at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT.

“The whole world wants to see this fight. Not just ourselves or people involved in boxing, but the whole world,” proclaimed Alexander Krassyuk, Usyk’s promoter, adding that, “I can promise you and promise all the fans around the world that I will do everything that can depend on me to make this fight happen.” The fact that Krassyuk is so emphatically committed underscores the collective pulse of anticipation resonating across the globe. This isn’t merely a fight; it’s an event awaiting its historical stamp.

Before Dubois entered the picture, talks were underway for an epochal bout between Usyk and Britain’s WBC champion, Tyson Fury. Negotiations hit a roadblock, disappointing many who were clamouring for a titanic encounter that would have united all four heavyweight belts for the first time in the four-belt era. Instead, Fury opted for a path less trodden, agreeing to face MMA fighter Francis Ngannou in a non-title showdown scheduled for October 28 in Saudi Arabia.

“I think it’s easy money for Tyson Fury,” said Usyk, casting a dubious eye on Fury’s upcoming bout. “Your perception and my perception are different. You treat it like a show, I treat it as an athlete. If he chooses this way, OK I respect his choice.” Usyk’s words make it crystal clear: For him, boxing isn’t just show business; it’s an athletic endeavour requiring relentless commitment and courage.

Amidst the shadow of the Fury-Usyk bout that never was, Daniel Dubois seized the opportunity. This WBA (Regular) champion, albeit a considerable underdog, is relishing his golden ticket to challenge Usyk on his home turf. Dubois comes in with a record of 19 wins and one loss, with a remarkable 18 KOs. However, his past performances against Kevin Lerena and Joe Joyce have stirred scepticism, causing many to question his ability to match up against a technician like Usyk.

David Haye, a veteran of the boxing world, has weighed in, urging Dubois via social media to “rough up IBF, IBO, WBA & WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk if need be this Saturday night, but get his belts from him, no matter what it takes.” Haye’s call-to-arms aligns with Dubois’ recent affirmations about securing a win “by any means necessary,” thereby dialling up the stakes and the drama for this weekend.

British promoter Frank Warren, who represents both Dubois and Fury, is equally tantalising in his own prognostications. “How’s it going to happen [now] when Daniel wins?” he posed, suggesting that a win for Dubois would effectively scrub Usyk from the broader championship picture. “Our man beats him and if he beats him then Usyk is out of the picture. Then we’ll see where we go from there.”

While Usyk is undoubtedly the favourite, there’s an unpredictability that looms large over the bout. If the referee adopts a laissez-faire approach to officiating, Dubois could well exploit that latitude, making for an even more combustible setting.

But even as the world holds its breath for this imminent showdown, Usyk is a man unperturbed by the magnitude of what many would consider legacy-defining moments. “No, it is not the final point,” he divulged. “I am 36, but this is just the beginning. I started boxing at the age of 15. It’s just the beginning now.”

He’s also incredibly mindful of the sands of time. At 36, Usyk is all too aware of the finite nature of an athlete’s career. “I do realise there are not many years left for me in boxing and I don’t want to spend much time in boxing. I want to take my kids to school and whatever,” he revealed, giving us a glimpse into the man behind the gloves.

So as we count down the hours to this clash of heavyweights in Wroclaw, the stakes are astronomically high. Whether it’s Usyk continuing to reign supreme or Dubois pulling off a seismic upset, one thing’s for sure: Saturday night is going to be a milestone event in the annals of heavyweight boxing, one that fans and pundits will dissect and discuss for years to come.